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The Song of the Smoke

I am the Smoke King 
I am black! 
I am swinging in the sky, 
I am wringing worlds awry; 
I am the thought of the throbbing mills, 
I am the soul of the soul-toil kills, 
Wraith of the ripple of trading rills; 
Up I’m curling from the sod, 
I am whirling home to God; 
I am the Smoke King 
I am black. 

I am the Smoke King, 
I am black! 
I am wreathing broken hearts, 
I am sheathing love’s light darts; 
Inspiration of iron times 
Wedding the toil of toiling climes, 
Shedding the blood of bloodless crimes— 
Lurid lowering ’mid the blue, 
Torrid towering toward the true, 
I am the Smoke King, 
I am black. 

I am the Smoke King, 
I am black! 
I am darkening with song, 
I am hearkening to wrong! 
I will be black as blackness can— 
The blacker the mantle, the mightier the man! 
For blackness was ancient ere whiteness began. 
I am daubing God in night, 
I am swabbing Hell in white: 
I am the Smoke King 
I am black. 

I am the Smoke King 
I am black! 
I am cursing ruddy morn, 
I am hearsing hearts unborn: 
Souls unto me are as stars in a night, 
I whiten my black men—I blacken my white! 
What’s the hue of a hide to a man in his might? 
Hail! great, gritty, grimy hands— 
Sweet Christ, pity toiling lands! 
I am the Smoke King 
I am black.

Poem by W. E. B. Du Bois
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